The Green Bay Packers are once again the champions of football. Congratulations to them on their epic playoff run and brilliant Super Bowl performance. And congrats to Aaron Rodgers on winning the Super Bowl MVP, an accomplishment that moves him out of Brett Favre’s shadow once-and-for all.
Yes, Aaron Rodgers now has as many Super Bowl titles as Brett Favre. Do I even need to say it? Ted Thompson was right to get rid of Favre when he did. And he was right to do everything in his power to keep Favre off the Vikings. And I suppose Packer fans were even right, at least at first, in expressing bitterness toward Favre for the way he handled his exit.
That said, I think Packer fan bitterness over Favre’s departure has long-since crossed the line from understandable to outrageous and slightly sad.
Sure, in the first months after Favre’s departure, it was right for Packer fans to be bewildered and angry. He was your hero, and suddenly he was acting like a typical selfish athlete. Your illusions were shattered. Your faith was broken.
And then when Favre somehow maneuvered his way onto the Vikings after a one-year exile to the Jets: okay, I can understand being a little angry there too. It must’ve been painful seeing your former favorite son don the colors of a hated rival. And when, in spite of all your dire predictions about your erstwhile hero, that hero led your hated rival to the cusp of the Super Bowl? That had to sting, at least a little.
What I’m saying here is, I understand some of Packer fans’ bitterness toward Favre. What I don’t understand, and can never understand, is the depth of hatred some among these fans have harbored toward Favre.
This hate, it’s not unfair to say, has sometimes bordered on the psychotic. It has occasionally been funny, but on too many occasions it has been merely scary.
Now that the Packers have won another Super Bowl, and exorcised those Favre demons, I think it’s time for these extreme haters to offer a public apology to Favre and forgive him. Not so much for Favre’s sake as their own.
There is of course precedent for such an act of open forgiveness toward a hated player. When the Red Sox finally won the World Series, the fans absolved Bill Buckner, the former symbol of their frustration, and even applauded him when he threw out a first pitch at Fenway Park.
Are the Packers ready to embrace Favre as an organization and bring him back to Lambeau for some kind of formalized burying-the-hatchet ceremony like the Red Sox did with Buckner? Not yet probably. But the fans can take the first step toward making this happen. They can show how big they are by letting bygones be bygones in a public way.
What sort of specific gestures can fans make? First off, they can take down all their Favre-hating websites. They can stop ripping Favre at every opportunity on Twitter and other such outlets. Most importantly, they can get rid of any and all Favre-hating paraphernalia. “We’ll Never Forget You Brent” was funny for a minute, but now it’s grown tired, plus it’s counter-productive. If fans truly want to let go of that hate, it must start with a symbolic purging. I’m not suggesting they burn their anti-Favre gear, but they should at least throw it in the garbage, or give perhaps give it to Goodwill.
Like I said, this isn’t as much for Favre’s sake as the sake of fans. Favre I’m sure doesn’t care that much what Packer fans think of him, outside of his fear that he could lose post-career revenue as a result of his alienation from the folks he dazzled for all those years. The fans however do care…far too much. But now that they’ve won their post-Favre Super Bowl, and Thompson has been vindicated and Rodgers anointed, it’s time to engage in some therapeutic expunging of angry feelings.
Here’s what I’m asking Packer fans to do as a bare minimum: as you’re indulging yourself in celebration, please just take a second to think about the man you once loved, then loved to hate, and instead of letting the hate flood over you again, look past all that and try to remember the good times. Try to recall how you felt when you won your last Super Bowl, with Favre at the helm. Think about all those amazing plays he made. Think about the wonderful moments he gave you.
It should be easy, now that you have another trophy. And not only would this make you feel better, it would prove how big you can be. It would show that you’re capable of rising above your own somewhat petty fannishness to achieve a higher level of understanding.
It’s only a small thing. I’m sure you can do it. If you try. It might help to lay off the booze for a little while and let your brain return to something like normal functioning. Just saying.